Digging Up Burdock

I'll uproot this weed if it's the last thing I ever do!

Burdock Root drawing
Burdock Rosette and Root

Pen and ink drawing by "Wildman"

This major wild food has long-stalked wedge-shaped leaves reminiscent of elephantsí ears, 2 feet long and 1 foot across. Unlike similar leaves, theyíre white and fuzzy underneath.

The basal rosette of leaves stays close to the ground the first year and the beginning of the second.

Burdock Basal Rosette

Burdock Basal Rosette

Then, in mid-spring of year 2, a central flower stalk 2-9 feet tall arises.
Second-year Burdock
Second-year Burdock with Immature (Edible) Flower Stalk

The flowers resemble purple shaving brushes.

Burdock Flower
Burdock Flower

The fruits that follow are brown globular burrs that stick to clothing and anything else.

Burdock Fruit
Burdock Fruit
After thus dispersing its seeds, this biennial dies.
Burdock Seeds
Burdock Seeds

These crescent-shaped black seeds fall to the ground when you remove the burrs from your clothing.

Look for burdock in disturbed habitats, roadsides, vacant lots, and fields. It grows throughout North America except in the Deep South.
Goats Eating Burdock Leaves
Burdock leaves are delicious too, but only if you're a goat!

You can harvest the large, deep, beige taproot from the basal rosette form (as soon as the flower stalk appears, the root becomes tough and woody) from early spring to late fall. Its hearty flavor is a little like that of potatoes, although itís related to artichokes.

Burdock Root
Burdock Root

Scrub the root with a coarse copper scouring pad, but donít peel it. Slice it razor-thin on a diagonal, oriental-style, or use the finest slicing disk of a food processor.

Simmer 20 minutes or until tender. You may also sautÈ it, but add liquid and cook it in moist heat another 10 minutes afterwards, or it may not get tender.

You may also harvest the immature flower stalk in late spring, before the flowers appear, while itís still tender and very flexible.

Peeled and parboiled for 1 minute to get rid of the bitterness, it tastes like artichoke hearts, and it will enhance any traditional recipe that calls for the heart of artichokes. Cook this for another 5-10 minutes.

Burdock, Immature Flower Stalk
Immature Burdock Flower Stalk
Burdock Shirt Image

Drawings, photos, and design by "Wildman"

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